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HINDU  HOLLYWOOD                                    101

But the real reason for the stagnation of India's Hollywood
(which is almost entirely dominated hy Hindu capital) is the same
as the reason for the stagnation of everything else—religion-
The great majority of Indian pictures deal, in one form or
another, with religious or mythological subjects. The camera is
permanently focused on the remote past. The screen is literally
a shadow screen across which there flits an endless procession of
saintly ghosts, whispering the stones of ancient superstitions.
And all this in a land which hums with stories! In modern
India, plots grow on every tree ; the very air is thick with drama ;
but none of the drama gets into the studio.
Mow and then, it is true, an advanced producer will attempt
what he calls a modern "social/ Since most of the script-writers
are unable to think up any new ideas for themselves these * socials'
are pinched ahnost in their entirety from old American successes.
They lift situations which were originally devised for somebody
like Lucille Ball, wearing pyjamas against a background of sky-
scrapers, and they hand them to dove-eyed young womep in
flowing draperies, capering through miles of mango groves. The
result is, to put it mildly, unhappy. Sophisticated back-chat
doesn't ring true in a saree, particularly when the temple bells
are ringing in the distance.
Yet what a treasure trove is waiting for the producer and the
script-writer—to say nothing of the star !
Here are one or two examples. First, the theme of cuntouch-
ability.'
Why not take a boy who has been born, an * untouchable," trans-
port him to the free air of Britain or America, and let him make
good, as thousands have made good before him. (Oh yes. I know
all about the colour-bar. But the colour-bar is a minor irritation
compared with the major slavery of untouchability.) llake him
rich and famous.. .and bring him back to his native village.
"What a theme it would have been for Arnold Bennett I He is
not allowed to draw a cup of water from the village punip ? Very
well—he builds his own reservoir. He is so degraded that the
lowest washerwoman will not touch his clothes ? Theix he builds